How to Glue on Rhinestones


Rhinestones, made from crystal, glass or acrylic, come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Popular since the 18th century, rhinestones originally simulated the shine of diamonds without the expense. Rhinestones add sparkle and dimension to everything from performance costuming and tiaras to cell phone covers and handbags. You can affix rhinestones, readily available at craft stores and beading supply vendors, to an item by sewing, cold glue or hot fix applicators.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat-backed rhinestones
  • Rhinestone or craft glue
  • Rhinestone applicator stick
  • Rhinestone hot fix applicator and hot fix rhinestones
  • Fabric pencil
  • Paper

Preparing for Embellishment

  • Create the design on paper, making dots to indicate where you need to place rhinestones. Use a bamboo skewer or a similar pointed object to poke holes through the rhinestone markings. Use the template to mark the design on to the surface with a fabric pencil. Use the smallest mark possible so that you can’t see the marking after you have attached the rhinestones.

  • Make certain that the surface to be embellished is clean, dry and pressed flat, if the surface is fabric.

  • Lay the paper template close to the work area and then lay out the rhinestones on the template, gem side up. Adjust colors and shapes of rhinestones, if needed. This allows you to streamline the application process, moving each stone from template to markings on the surface without confusion.

Using a Hot Fix Rhinestone Applicator

  • Plug in the hot fix applicator, attach the correct size of tip for your project and allow it to heat up, following manufacturer directions for exact specifications. Set applicator on a board or plate and do not allow the tip to touch the work surface or any other items.

  • Place the tip of the applicator on the rhinestone and transfer it to the surface, following your marked pattern.

  • Press rhinestone down on pattern marking with gentle pressure. Hold in place for 3 to 5 seconds to allow the glue to adhere to surface.

Using Cold Glue to Attach Rhinestones

  • Practice on a scrap piece of material to determine the amount of glue needed for the size of rhinestone you have chosen. The dot of glue should be large enough to cover the mirrored backing of the rhinestone and come in contact with the glass portion of the stone.

  • Lay out rhinestones on the paper template, adjusting sizes and colors as needed.

  • Place a dot of glue on the material surface and then pick up a rhinestone with the applicator stick. Transfer the stone to the material, press in to the glue dot and then twist the stick to release the stone.

  • Allow the embellished item to dry for at least 24 hours to set the rhinestones permanently.

Tips & Warnings

  • Hand wash and air dry any rhinestone-embellished garments to increase life span. Using machines to wash and dry will cause glue to dissolve.
  • When using hot fix applicators, try a few practice applications on a scrap first to adjust pressure and holding time.
  • Only use fabrics that can withstand the heat of a hot fix applicator. If your fabric cannot tolerate this heat, use the cold glue method only.

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